Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been related to a reduced risk of depression relapse, according to researchers from Oxford University. The same treatment is developed to teach people how to process feelings and experiences in order to avoid episodes of depression.

Researchers compared data obtained from patients who received MBCT and patients under antidepressants therapy. After conducting nine trials, 38 percent of MBCT patients had a depressive relapse within 60 weeks of the follow-up period. On the other hand, 49 percent of patients who received different treatments had a depressive relapse, during the same time.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a psychological therapy designed to aid in preventing the relapse of depression, specifically in individuals with the major depressive disorder. Credit: Breathe Mindfulness

Results would appear to show that people who had demonstrated more symptoms of depression when they started treatment, received more benefits from MBCT, in comparison with other treatments. A theory suggests that findings apply to a wide range of patients since age, sex, level of education and age at which they first became depressed did not alter the effect of MBCT.

This psychological therapy can also act against major depression. According to researchers, people who received MBCT and interrupted medications sometimes had 23 percent fewer possibilities of relapsing to major depression, when compared to those who were just receiving antidepressants.

Richard Byng, the author of the study and Professor of Primary Care at the University of Plymouth, has explained that there was not enough data to determine which type of patient can be most benefitted by the therapy, among certain contexts. However, he said “it is encouraging” for physicians and patients, to have another option.

“This, along with varied individual study and wide combined study confidence intervals, means that clinicians need to be cautiously optimistic when tapering off antidepressant medication, and treat each patient as an individual who may or may not benefit from MBCT,” said Professor Byng.

Mental Illness in the United States: one in five adults suffers from a mental illness

Mental Illness refers to disorders that generally alter the mood, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just 40 percent of adults with mental illness in the country have received a proper diagnosis.

Depression is one the most common mental disorders in the country, says the National Institute of Mental Health. Last nationwide registers date to 2014 when it was determined that approximately 15.7 million adults in the United States had at least a major depressive episode during the year, which represents 6.7 percent of all adults.

Even when MBCT is not a universal cure, it still offers benefits for the long-term, explained Willem Kuyken, lead author of the study and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. At the same time, it can be an “empowering” treatment, when combined with maintenance antidepressants.

“We need to do more research, however, to get recovery rates closer to 100% and to help prevent the first onset of depression, earlier in life. These are programs of work we are pursuing at the University of Oxford and with our collaborators around the world.'” said Professor Kuyken in a press release. 

Study details were published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry

Source: Oxford University Press Release